News ID: 96074
Publish Date : 01 November 2021 - 21:18

BAGHDAD (AP) – Across Iraq, students returned to classrooms Monday for the first time in a year and a half following the prolonged closure caused by the coronavirus pandemic — a closure that compares only to the times of war and turmoil.
The pandemic break with in-person schooling in Iraq has been among the longest in the world, affecting some 11 million students nationwide. Iraq’s Ministry of Education provided learning in the interim through an online platform, but the focus has mostly been on students in higher grades taking their final exams.
According to the World Bank, learning levels in Iraq are among the lowest in the Middle East and North Africa and are likely to decline even further because of the impact the pandemic.
With schools closed over 75% of the time since February 2020 and opportunities for remote learning limited and unequal, the World Bank warned in a report last month that “students in Iraq are facing more than a ‘lost year’ of learning.”
Online teaching in Iraq faced many challenges, including poor internet connection, prevailing and often daily power outages, and many families’ dire economic conditions.
Haider Farouk Abdel Qader, a spokesman for Iraq’s Ministry of Education, said the government decided to reopen public schools after infection levels dropped following the arrival of vaccines. Iraqis have to resume their lives, and part of life is education, he said. Private schools reopened last month.
Iraq has registered just over 2 million infections and 23,170 deaths so far during the pandemic. Lately, the numbers of new infections have slowed down, with an average of 1,000 to 1,500 a day — down from a record average of over 12,000 in July.
The academic year starting Monday will include four days of in-school attendance a week — with one day left for remote learning — and measures such as obligatory vaccination or weekly PCR tests for teachers, mandatory face masks and social distancing measures

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